LinkedIn has “connections,” Twitter has “followers”, but Facebook famously co-opted the word “friend” and created a new verb.
What would be an impressive number of friends in real life?
British anthropologist and Oxford professor Robin Dunbar has posed a theory that the number of individuals with whom a stable interpersonal relationship can be maintained (read: friends) is limited by the size of the human brain, specifically the neocortex. “Dunbar’s number,” as this hypothesis has become known, is 150.
Facebook says 5,000.
My personal Facebook page has reached it’s limit of 5,000 friends.
It’s true. You can check out my personal Facebook page here.
Because of this, I can’t send a new friend request anymore, and I can’t accept new friends as well.
Facebook will display the statement below whenever I try to accept or send out a new friend request:
“Individual Facebook members can connect to a maximum of 5000 friends and Pages. To do this action, you’ll need to remove a friend or unlike a Page you’re already connected to.”
This was when I realized Facebook has imposed a limit on friends. Now, why do they want to do that?
There are a few stories around why the limitation exists at all. The official reason is that Facebook wants to make sure that we only add “real” friends to our accounts, and the restriction is on the high end of the number of friends that any one person could reasonable have. They want to limit our contacts to actual friends, and curtail commercial abuses and that sort of thing.
I get that. And yet, it feels a bit paternalistic that they get to decide who consenting adults add or accept as “friends.”
The unofficial (and actual) reason: scaling problems made this necessary. But those scaling issues have been resolved yet how come the cap has not been lifted?
Technically, it may mean they would just like to reduce the server storage space or database size it would require to keep all the information about our friends.
The company cites behind-the-scenes “back-end technology” as the reason for the cap, implying that the system will implode at the sight of a 5,001st friend.
Facebook says that “less than 1,000″ users have 5,000 friends today. There are around 70 million active Facebook users, so the number of users who are affected is around one thousandth of a percent. But a disproportionate percentage of bloggers and press are at the limit, so the issue tends to get a lot more attention than it otherwise would.
If you have a profile that hit the 5000 friend limit you can turn on Subscriptions and now have an unlimited number of followers. Basically it brings the Twitter like follow to Facebook (is Twitter threatened?). We can now allow people to follow us without being an approved friend. Subscribers will see our Public posts. So if we have a post we don’t want subscribers to see, we need to change the privacy settings of that post when posting.
To allow Subscriptions, go to your profile page, just below your profile photo click the Subscriptions link and update the settings.
Facebook has allowed us to merge our Pages with our profiles, so we don’t have to rebuild our audience when we use the Subscription feature. However, this isn’t like a page. Pages can be managed by multiple admins and can be customized with applications. Pages also offer Insights (Facebook’s analytics tool), whereas Subscriptions don’t. We have much control of our brand if we’re going to create a Page, like a Fan Page.
But how come there’s no limit to a Fan Page? Doesn’t it still put a weight on the Facebook database and consume server storage space as well?
I’ve seen Fan Pages reaching millions of Likes, their awesomely inspiring!
But for many people, being a “friend” is much different than being a “subscriber” or a “fan“, and the level of interaction allowed is also significantly different.
So to avoid the 5k limitation, I deactivated the second personal account that I made a few days ago, and created a Fan Page instead:
Like it, Like it, Like it !
I used to feel like I was going to tear my hand off because of the strain I get after approving the many friend requests and clicking on the several “Likes” and “Shares” of as many interesting posts that I encounter as I scroll down at my Home page. It was equally necessary to actively interact by replying to the comments and posting new status updates.
But you really feel obligated because it is disrespectful not to reply to a comment especially if it’s in the form of a question, and many are anticipating your next status update, as if they will feel worried and “poke” you forever if you fail to do so.
Please be among the first ones to Like!
…but rest assured that all of my “subscribers” and “fans” would be indiscriminately discerned as “friends.”
and if we do get a chance to meet “flesh-and-blood” in real life, just introduce ourselves and who knows, maybe we could be BFFs as well.